In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall endorsed the proposed diplomatic agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He urged Congress to support it based on the scientific and technical merits, saying the alternative could lead to more war that Americans don’t want and can’t afford.
“This is a historic moment. This agreement has profound impact if we approve it and – make no mistake – if we fail to approve it,” Udall said in his speech. “This is a time for careful review and I hope we can take a step back and take a clear view.”
Udall underscored the importance of verification and emphasized his confidence in the science guiding the agreement, including the work done by scientists and nuclear energy and weapons experts at national labs like Los Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico.
“Critics rightly ask: How will we be sure? Iran has cheated before and they may cheat again,” Udall said. “That is why the P5+1 will be closely involved in the redesign and rebuilding of this reactor. If it has plutonium, we will know.”
“We all agree on one thing: verification is key. I don’t think any of us have any illusions here. Iran has a long and troubling history of deception,” Udall continued. “I am pleased the administration included Secretary of Energy Moniz in these discussions. The Department of Energy is the world’s foremost expert on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. Any agreement on nuclear weapons must be guided by science. Not politics. Not speculation. Science. Our scientists at New Mexico’s two national labs, Los Alamos and Sandia, and scientists at Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge national laboratories all have played a key role in these negotiations.”
“This agreement will take the nuclear threat off the table. That is what it will do, but here’s what it will not do. It does not diminish our resolve to combat other threats or to defend our allies. That resolve will be and it must be stronger than ever. To my colleagues who argue we should walk away from the agreement, which has already been approved by the world’s leading powers, I would ask: walk away to where? To what end? To what alternative?”
Udall urged senators to consider the deal with a focus not on politics, but rather on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon or the materials to develop one. He encouraged them to act promptly on the strategic opportunity presented by the proposed agreement, rather than delaying.
“We have a choice between this deal and no deal. I do not believe we will get another chance,” Udall said. “But…I ask that we be open to ways that Congress can reinforce the agreement. That should be part of the process too, with investment in people and technologies to support nonproliferation enforcement, with strong oversight of the implementation plan – not to embarrass or score political points – but to ensure Iran is abiding by its part of the deal, with increased support for our allies in the region, and with clear provisions for a quick snapback of existing sanctions should that be necessary.”